John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 07/30/2020

    Is a drive-through-only store the shape of things to come for Wawa?

    A creative idea that will be embraced by some shoppers. Wawa will lose some impulse sales though. I'm not sure if that loss will be offset by the convenience of drive-through offered to some shoppers. Time will tell.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2020

    Will COVID-19 bludgeon Halloween sales?

    Candy makers are scrambling to develop creative promotions for Halloween during the coronavirus pandemic. But sadly, they won't be enough to offset a likely decline in sales compared to past Halloween seasons. I expect fewer trick or treaters at the door and more in-home parties where everybody will be wearing masks. How ironic.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2020

    Can Trader Joe’s shake off its racist branding tag?

    I think the brand names are lighthearted and not offensive in any way. I bet that a poll of Trader Joe's shoppers would reveal the same. However, these are tense times. The world will not end -- and neither will true racism -- if the brand names are changed. I don't predict any long-term damage to Trader Joe's.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2020

    Did Amazon just put its Go technology in a shopping cart?

    I just don't see this being a big success. Most shoppers won't want to bag their own groceries. It's as simple as that.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2020

    Do Americans want retailers to keep their social distance after COVID-19 is gone?

    Home delivery and curbside pickup were going to increase in frequency even without COVID-19. The pandemic merely made that happen sooner. Will they continue to be reliable options for shoppers? Absolutely. Once they try these services, many of them will stay with them. But in-store shopping will also continue to be important eventually.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2020

    Can robots keep the salad bar safe?

    Robot salad bars are a short-term fix, but a slippery slope. When the virus is over, will all robots exit the supermarket and humans get their jobs back? Probably not. Robots may be the future, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2020

    Can a box of pancake mix be racist?

    We have accepted such branding for years without thinking about it. In today's time of reflection, it is correct for food makers to reconsider all branding that may be considered racially insensitive. But we can go too far as well. I have read that the image of Snap, Crackle, and Pop figures on Rice Krispies is insensitive because they are all white.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2020

    Will personalization work for produce?

    It's rather pricey, but I like the idea of personalization. Maybe grocers can figure out a variation for their customers.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2020

    Will COVID-19 quicken drone delivery’s flight to retail?

    Sure, drones have proven to be valuable during COVID-19 and some experts are now feeling warm and fuzzy about this technology. I can see the value in drones for delivering medicine to remote areas and in emergencies. But for all these benefits, there are still issues of noise, spying capacity, threat to planes and birds, and so on.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2020

    The face mask rule is now simply a suggestion at some H-E-B stores

    If a marketplace is a hot spot for COVID-19, grocers should impose a mandatory mask policy. In all other places, masks should be encouraged, but optional. It's that simple.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Will dollar stores be the biggest post-COVID-19 winners?

    A recession, the pandemic and widespread unemployment make for a perfect storm for the success of dollar stores. It's that simple.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Is it safe to bring back food sampling?

    In-store sampling has always been a shopper favorite. But it is too soon to bring back this promotion. First, there is the issue of masks. Are shoppers supposed to remove masks to sample and then put the mask on? Then there is the issue of cautious shoppers wondering if sampling food and drink is safe since the coronavirus has not yet been vanquished. More time has to pass before sampling becomes viable and valuable again.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2020

    Is curbside pickup just getting started?

    Some of the shoppers who tried curbside during the pandemic will stay with it after the virus is vanquished due to the convenience factor. But most will not because of several issues: frequent "substitutions" of ordered products (were they not in stock or the buyer couldn't find them); products whose "use by" date is too close to the ordering day; spotty service; picked produce doesn't look attractive enough, etc.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2020

    Will COVID-19 turn us into a society of health nuts?

    It depends. Take the folks who are loading up on comfort foods such as pizza, snacks and alcohol during the pandemic -- and there are many of them. Will they focus more on health and wellness after the virus is vanquished? No, they won't. Meanwhile, folks who value health and wellness will eat and drink responsibly during the pandemic. Afterwards, they will become even more of a "health nut"? (A term I personally find offensive, by the way.)
  • Posted on: 05/05/2020

    Kristin’s farm-to-consumer model fills in food supply gaps at a critical time

    Direct-to-consumer orders are increasing during the pandemic for all the reasons mentioned in previous posts. That is not surprising. The real challenge is maintaining that level of sales or increasing them after the virus is vanquished. Only smart operators who have mastered the fundamentals and can meet shopper expectations will prosper.

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